On Thursday 1st November, Asthma UK launched a devastating new report, On the edge: How inequality affects people with asthma. Asthma kills 3 people every day in the UK, but two thirds of these deaths are thought to be preventable. The report reveals that asthma is more prevalent within more deprived communities and that those living in more deprived areas of England are more likely to end up in hospital – and sometimes even die – as a result of their asthma.
On the edge: How inequality affects people with asthma collates the evidence on health inequalities and asthma, recommending that action should be taken across national and local Government and the NHS to tackle asthma triggers such as smoking, pollution, poor housing and unhealthy working conditions. The report also calls for action to improve health literacy, supported by digital innovation, to help people better manage their asthma in the community.
Key findings from the report include:
- Asthma is more prevalent in deprived areas, and people living with asthma in more deprived areas of England have a greater chance of ending up in hospital because of their asthma.
- Certain groups in more deprived areas are more likely to die because of their asthma.
- Those from disadvantaged socio-economic groups are more likely to be exposed to the causes and triggers of asthma, such as smoking, air pollution, poor housing and unhealthy working conditions.
- There is significant variation in access to basic NHS care for asthma sufferers living in different regions of England, and across different age groups.
- Treating asthma requires often complex self-management, which is harder to embed in groups with lower levels of health literacy.
- To reduce health inequalities in asthma: (i) action is needed to tackle the causes and triggers of asthma; (ii) improved access to basic NHS care is needed for all asthma sufferers; and (iii) digital innovation and improved health literacy should be prioritised, to enable people to better manage their asthma.
Healthcare commissioners, including NHS England, clinical commissioning groups and local government are required to consider reducing health inequalities when providing health care and taking measures to improve public health. Asthma UK's report highlights the fact that there is still a long way to go before all people with asthma are enabled to manage their condition effectively and there are equitable outcomes for everyone with asthma. Asthma UK is therefore calling for decision-makers across central and local government and the NHS to commit to tackling these inequalities to help stop life-threatening asthma attacks.
You can read the report here: https://www.asthma.org.uk/globalassets/get-involved/external-affairs-campaigns/publications/health-inequality/auk-health-inequalities-paper.pdf